Last Friday, the Chamber of Advocates, issued a round robin to all its members asking them to participate in a survey designed and piloted by the European Commission. The survey asks questions like If we submit claims electronically, apply for summons digitally, present evidence electronically. Alas! None of these systems are available to the lowly Maltese lawyer.
The results of the survey are then published in an EU Justice Scoreboard. The whole idea is that it gives a comparative overview of the efficiency, quality and independence of justice systems in the EU Member States. In so doing, it ought to assist governments to improve their justice systems.
This is, for us local practitioners, something of a joke. Colleagues of ours in neighbouring Italy, not a country that is very IT oriented – probably something to do with a lack of proficiency in English, are miles ahead of the local justice system. A partner firm of ours in Verona tell us that it is impossible, in that it is no longer permissible, to submit acts in their Courts, in physical form. Every act or submission is carried out electronically. This saves time, money, makes the system more flexible and reduces costs. In Malta, we have as yet to design systems that are user or customer friendly. We have a lot to learn, and as Robert Frost once wrote – miles to go before we sleep.